Created in 1996 by the international peasant movement Via Campesina, this international day commemorates the massacre of 19 landless peasants in Brazil on April 17th. It is a moment to celebrate the solidarity and resistance of peasant movements and strengthen alliances between urban and rural communities so together they can build a world that is just and respects the dignity of all peoples. On this day, Development and Peace - Caritas Canada salutes the struggles of peasant movements around the world. On April 17, why not support peasant struggles by preparing a local organic meal?
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…a landowner went out early in the morning
to hire labourers for his vineyard. (Mt. 20: 1)
The decree on religious life, Perfectae Caritatis, promulgated by the Second Vatican Council, recommended taking into account the characteristics of the world of that time (1965). And what, in Quebec, came to be called the Quiet Revolution, a time of turmoil and of social, ecclesiastical and religious unrest, provided us with more than we needed as background.
The Quiet Revolution with its slogan "Things have to change!” affected the world of education as never before. With little or no regard for the religious communities who had, until then, played a surrogate role, the government decided to assume its responsibilities. In 1964, it created the Ministry of Education and established greater cohesion in its public education network. From then on, it would be the State that would control the programs, the choice of textbooks, the way to validate diplomas, etc.
As a result, classical colleges would disappear to make way for Comprehensive High Schools and CEGEPs. The public network would extend to outlying regions. Teachers’ training would take place at the university level, marking the end of Teachers' Colleges and classical courses. The secularization of education was in process, with the confessional status no longer reflecting a multiethnic society.
A lengthy ordeal to overcome! Discontent among teachers and challenges for religious authorities! "The time of great uniformity and control is past" (Dominique Laperle). Beyond emotions, frustrations and uncertainties, we needed to bounce back, consider the future, negotiate, be creative, and practice detachment. The Sisters committed themselves to shaping a new institutional structure, something that did not happen without clashes, trial and error, resistance or the departure of sisters who deplored the slowness of the process.
In his book Entre concile et révolution tranquille (Between Council and Quiet Revolution). Médiaspaul 2015, Dominique Laperle made the following comment:
The Sisters, who were now a minority in the school system and called by Vatican II to intervene differently, taking into account the signs of the times, cautiously undertook a process of redefining the apostolate. . . Many members of the congregation saw this trial as a way to reread the work of the foundress and to revive it from a new perspective.
The 1967-1968 Chapter sessions gave rise to serious reflections. There were discussions around transformation of religious life; new ways of living for and with the people of that time; the need for a unifying and dynamic spirituality to better understand the meaning of one’s vocation as a woman educator, committed to the work of the Church in the midst of the People of God.
Thus, the concept of charism would be broadened so that education would encompass liberating action, the development of the whole person, and an insertion into the life and pastoral mission of the Church. The school setting would no longer be the main area of mission. Fields of action became diversified in order to respond to a variety of calls from places where faith and justice merged. New life was breathed into mission.
And since then, the Acts of our General Chapters have tried to set a direction with renewed calls to openness and commitment. Among the values promoted, we note: contemplation in action; solidarity with women, migrants, and refugees; justice and systemic change. We also observe socially responsible investments; interdependence for mission and a more just world; new forms of SNJM association; integral ecology; and the use of modern technologies as a means of communication and of looking at our world.
We can even dare to say that our poverty in human resources has become a richness since our mission today is shared with laypeople - associates, volunteers, consecrated laypersons and partners, whether administrators of private schools, professionals working in our infirmaries, our various other employees, etc. Collaborative relationships have been created with organizations, NGOs, other religious congregations, and networks, such as Justice and Peace. After consensus, corporate stands have been publicly affirmed: for access to water, against human trafficking, for migrants and refugees. These stands have become, for us, a common ministry.
With my current outlook, I ask myself:
How have desert times opened us up to the paths to life?
How have our “community living” and our mission been enriched?
We thank you, God,
for calling us to deepen our understanding of mission
and to work at building a better world.
Help us, in our everyday actions, to become
channels of life, of peace, and of love.
Simone Perras, s.n.j.m., in collaboration with the PLT
I have been told that I am dust
but I have never been told that I am STARDUST.
Is this only poetic language?
Let us look at this photo taken in 2014 by the Hubble Space Telescope which reveals nearly 3,000 distant galaxies and millions of stars hidden in a portion of the sky that seems blank and empty. We know that the beauty of the Universe is unfathomable. The concept of 100 billion suns, each of them a star within one of the 100 billion galaxies is beyond our imagination.
Contemporary research awakens us to the discovery that we come from the stars. We are stardust! But how can we be so sure?
At the time of the Big Bang, some 13.8 billion years ago, hydrogen and helium were released; clouds of these gases condensed into the first stars and galaxies. In their nuclear alchemy, the stars released heavy elements which became the elements of life. That is what made our own existence possible. Amazing! In fact, we were born from the stars. Our life, so precious and so fragile, originated from the stars!
We are stardust, miniature universes gifted with the mysterious faculty we call consciousness. As we look at the soil beneath our feet, let us be aware that we stand on the blue planet, next to a yellow star we call Sun. Let us contemplate the Milky Way in this vast cosmic space containing billions of galaxies. We can say with Hubert Reeves and other scientists: “This is home.” Or to quote Pope Francis in Laudato ‘Si, this is “our common home”.
“God took Abraham outside and said: “Look up to the sky and count the stars if you can. Such will be your descendants.” And Abraham chose to trust in God. (Genesis 15: 5).
“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you have established, what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands.
Psalm 8, NRSV (inclusive language)
Wonder of wonders! Without the stars, the Universe would be deprived of life, deprived of consciousness. Are we aware of this? The minerals and other elements that constitute the life of animals and flowers were born from the stars. The nuclei of atoms which constitute human beings were engendered in the interior of collapsing stars some billion years ago. The calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, nitrogen in our DNA all come from stars. Amazing discovery!
We inhale today the same atoms of oxygen as did Julius Caesar, Einstein, Mary, Mohammed, Gandhi, Jesus, etc. Contemporary scientists inform us that the matter of which we are made came from other galaxies. Could we not consider ourselves as space travellers or extragalactic immigrants?
Where is God in all this? asks Hubert Reeves
“The need to give meaning to life and to all reality is a distinctive characteristic of humanity.”
Each one of us brings an answer. Some scientists have doubts. Others are filled with awe. Some develop a spirituality of enquiry! With our limited human spirit, will we ever understand the immensity of the Universe? There will always be a part of mystery!
For Einstein, “The finest sentiment in the world is the sense of mystery. I feel my strongest emotion before the mystery of life.”
Let us take a moment to contemplate this great mystery! (a few seconds)
One with those who have come before us, we ponder...
We are stardust: such is the astonishing message of contemporary astronomy. Thousands of researchers have participated and continue to participate in this discovery. We give thanks for them!
We pay tribute to the brilliant team members who construct telescopes and observation instruments for NASA in their workshops or laboratories. They contribute to our discovery of the vastness of the Universe. We give thanks for them!
We pay tribute to our ancestors, who also came from the stars. The genes and the spirit of our ancestors were transmitted to us by our parents. Their spirit is always alive in our cells. Their genetic makeup is perpetuated in our bodies for all future generations. We give thanks for them!
We pay tribute to researchers and environmental groups for their efforts. Their work increases our awareness of the devastating impact of the destruction of Earth and of the effects of climate change. We give thanks for them!
We are also informed by the Buddhist tradition (Thich Nhat Hanh):
True change will take place only when we will fall in love with our planet. For only love can show us how to live in harmony with nature and with one another. We give thanks for them!
Let us take a moment of silence
God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass all grow in silence.
Look at the stars, the moon and the sun. See how they move so silently. (Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
(Photos from the Hubble Space Telescope)
Close your eyes. Concentrate on your body.
Repeat silently: I exist.
Open your eyes.
Look at the world around you.
Say to yourself: “I am stardust.”
“the world is stardust.”
Have we not been observing one of the most outstanding achievements ever realized?
A large number of galactic, planetary, stellar events of the past 14 billion years have brought us to this point of awareness. We cannot let the earth die! It is imperative that we humanise humanity.
Let us stand with Teilhard de Chardin, theologian Elia Delio and many others, who firmly believe that love is at the heart of the evolution of the world:
“In the depths of our DNA we belong to the stars, the trees and the galaxies… Deep within we long for unity because, at the most fundamental level, we are already one. We belong to one another because we have the same source of love; the love that flows through the trees is the same love that flows through our beings… We are deeply connected in this flow of love, which is the foundation of the universe.” (Elia Delio, Franciscan and theologian)
Let us go forth and let love transform us.
References for this reflection on “Stardust”
•Google : Poussières d’étoiles
•Poussières d’étoiles, Hubert Reeves, 1984
•Laudato’Si, Encyclical Letter on Care for our Common Home, Pope Francis, 2015
•Le banc du temps qui passe, méditation cosmique, Hubert Reeves, Seuil, 2017
•La terre comme soi-même. Repères pour une écospiritualité, Michel Maxime Egger, 2012
• Priez 15 jours avec Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, André Dupleix, nouvelle cité, 1994
- The Occasional Papers, Interview with Cynthia Bourgeault, Shaping the Planet with Transformed Love, Winter 2017
- Ilia Delio: “On Consciousness and Christogenesis: Teilhard’s Two Energies”
Pierrette Daviau, fdls et Lise Gagnon, snjm
English Translation: Lorraine St-Hilaire snjm
Spanish Translation: Eduardo Borrell
By Sr. Raquel de Fátima Colet
The seventh reflection of the of the "Seven Weeks for Water", of World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network, is by Sr. Raquel de Fátima Colet, a consecrated Catholic member of the Company of the Daughters of Charity of the Province of Curitiba/Paraná/Brasil. She is a member of the Ecumenical Movement of Curitiba (MOVEC). In the following reflection she relates the beatitudes in the context of respecting and protecting our waters. She says, “The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) present us with a path to follow Jesus, in the commitment to his Kingdom of love, justice and peace. From Latin America, from its exuberant nature and the lives of our peoples, today we want to proclaim the beatitudes of caring, translated into our prophetic participation in the promotion of a fair and equal access to water a universal gift and right”.
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)
When we say “happy” and “blessed”, we proclaim that our God is not indifferent to the cry of the little ones and of their causes, but that He makes the decision to intervene in their favor (Exodus 3:16b). In the current exodus experienced by our Common House, the integrity of the Common House is threatened by the interests of the pharaohs of the capital, who commercialize life and nature. In this paschal wait, we walk with our people in their journeys of life and faith, towards the earth soaked in milk and honey (Exodus 3:8), and of clear, preserved and shared water.
Happy are the poor in heart, our Amerindian peoples, indigenous to these lands and keepers of their abundant fresh water reserves. Theirs is the Kingdom of heaven because, keepers of the waters, they teach us that our bond with the earth is sacred.
Blessed is the active gentleness in so many religious groups and communities in this diverse continent. In the daily witnessing of their beliefs and their spiritual values, they help us cultivate a stance of hope when faced with the dormant conflicts related to accessing and using water. Land shall be their legacy because they invite us to non-violent, good living prophetic resistance.
Par Prof. Dr Jerónimo Granados
The sixth reflection of the of the "Seven Weeks for Water", of World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network, is by Prof. Dr Jerónimo Granados, an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Church of Río de La Plata. The following reflection recognises the promise of living water, the water that quenches the thirst of the world for Jesus Christ. However, he underscores the importance of the clean water to run through taps of people of Latin America which is vital for a dignified life. He also draws inspiration from the “Pachamama” of the native people of this region to respect and protect our waters.
To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
In the 1970s a very important essay for our American continent appeared: “Open veins of Latin America”. Its author, Uruguayan writer Juan José Galeano, offers a critical overview of the situation in the subcontinent formed by Latin America and the Caribbean, from the time of its colonization until the 20th century. At that time, the problem was mainly focused on the endemic poverty affecting vast sectors of society that were deeply marginalized due to unemployment, social injustice and famine. Today we would bluntly add “thirst”, or the implications of not having the infrastructure necessary for basic services, amongst them water and the healthy environment that it provides when it is well distributed, or at least not polluted. At that time, the topic of water was barely mentioned in governmental agendas, whereas today it is considered an inalienable right, given that, without it, the food and health chains would be seriously compromised. As well as an abundance of food (for example, Argentina produces food to feed ten times its population), there is also an abundance of water, and yet, there are sectors of society who barely have the minimum amount necessary to feed themselves in a healthy way, and do not have water networks or sewage. Cities are worst affected, and there are large social sectors that lack these basic services.
In the Bible, Genesis tells us about the origin of the world, and water appears as a constituent element of creation and it is used as a metaphor, teaching and parable to communicate the best and worst consequences of its actions. Nevertheless, it is described in many ways that revolve around its positive aspects. That water which appears from the start is not only found in seas, rivers and lakes, but also, abundantly, in aquifers. Part of the earth is floating on top of immense seas of underground fresh water.
By Veronica Flachier, an Ecuadorian journalist and theologian
The fifth of the seven reflections of the "Seven Weeks for Water" program is presented by Veronica Flachier , an Ecuadorian journalist and theologian, who examines the Ecuadorian Constitution and its National Plan for Gender Equality and the eradication of poverty, which places Ecuador recognizes Good Living, gold "Sumak Kawsay"" ,as an alternative to so-called "development". And promotes living in harmony and balance with Mother Earth and Mother Water.
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, rivers of living water will flow from him, as Scripture has said. " (Gospel according to Saint John 7: 37-38) (TOB)
" I have come so that the sheep have life and have it in abundance. " (Gospel of John 10:10) (NIV)
The state of water resources in Latin America.
Latin America, with its large territory that spans from the south of Río Bravo (Grande) to Tierra del Fuego, is one of the richest, and at the same time one of the most unequal regions in the world. The gap between the small strip that contains more wealth and power, and the large mass of poor people, is very wide. This is reflected in all aspects of community life for the inhabitants of Latin American nations.
In terms of the issue we are dealing with, the south American region, possessor of 33% of the renewable water resources in the globe, is the area with the greatest availability of water in the world. Its 3100 m3 of water per capita per year is double the world average per capita. Nevertheless, an inadequate management of water has prevented all who live in the region from having the same chances of accessing this vital liquid.
According to data from the Development Bank of Latin America, 2 out of 5 Latin Americans in rural areas do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Rev. Adelaida Jiménez Cortes
The fourth reflection of the of the "Seven Weeks for Water", of World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network, is by Rev. Adelaida Jiménez Cortes, a pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia. She has a master’s degree in Theological Studies and currently she is a doctoral candidate in Education with a specialty in Pedagogical Mediation. In the following reflection she draws a parallel between the situation of Hagar, who had the challenge to survive and keep her son Ishmael alive in a desert without water, to a village in the northern region of Colombia where women have the socially entrusted “responsibility” to fetch water for their families amidst water scarcity.
When we think of water, thousands of pictures of our country come to mind. Colombia is considered one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to water reserves; its watersheds are an enormous treasure, rivers that emerge from the high mountains run across a great part of the country. However, it is also important to recognize that the water reserves and the backwaters have been threatened by the economic model, by the mega mining projects, and the urban development projects that the Colombian government is responsible for approving without considering the depletion of these sources of water. In the words of Boff and Hathaway, they suggest that “our world is dominated by a pathological, out-of-control system that, when left to its own urge, threatens to destroy the earth” (36).
Similarly, pictures of water in the biblical Scriptures also come to mind. It is precisely here where the tale of a slave woman, foreigner and concubine, named Hagar, tells us her sufferings and the new life she found from water. In Genesis 21:14-19, we find bread and water as symbols of life alternatives. Hagar, who lives in a patriarchal structure, must suffer a whole system of oppression within which she is given by Sarah to Abraham in order to have his offspring. Hagar faces the hardships of a socio-cultural system that rejects her and that places in her hands only a piece of bread and a skin of water and sends her away to the desert. It is possible that some may have thought of Abraham as kind, but no. If we think carefully, this is only one serving that would not last a long journey through the desert.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
By Rev. Dario Barolin
The third reflection of the "Seven Weeks for Water", of World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network, is by Rev. Dr Dario Barolin, a pastor of the Waldensian Church in Uruguay. He is also the executive secretary of AIPRAL, the Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Latin America. In the following reflection he recalls an encounter with two youths of his church who are trying to revive a creek which has lost its freshness due to water pollution by industries. He then draws a parallel to the story of Exodus where Moses turns the bitter water of Marah into sweet, fresh water with the help of a plant, thereby implying plantation being key to watershed.
Uruguay established in 2009 the National Water Policy through the law 18,610. This law clearly emphasizes “the sustainable management, in solidarity with future generations, of water resources and the preservation of the hydrological cycle that constitutes matters of general interest.” However, a different reality emerges when we take a closer look at many rivers, creeks, lakes, etc. in our country.
Leticia and Juan are working hard to plant a dozen native trees on the shore of a small creek. The creek does not look good; it is sick, just like many of the rivers and streams of water in Uruguay. They are suffering direct aggression from agro-industrial wastes, especially pesticides that bring a high level of phosphorus in the water. In addition, in most of the cases the urban waste is directly sent to rivers without any kind of treatment. This process of sickening watersheds is reinforced through a constant practice of destruction of the native forest and vegetation. On top of all these, recently, the congress approved a law on irrigation (law 19,553) that will negatively affect the health of the watershed.
By Rev. Gloria Ulloa
The second reflection of the Seven Weeks for Water is by Rev. Gloria Ulloa, an ordained priest of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia and the president of the World Council of Churches, Latin American region. In the following reflection she relates her own experiences of growing up in her village by the riverside. She laments the current situation of water in the Latin American region and challenges the churches to address this water crisis to usher fullness of life among us.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) (NIV)
I am a pastor and a teacher. I have been a pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia in many communities in the northern part of the country. For the past few years, working as chaplain in the Colegio Americano de Barranquilla (American School of Barranquilla), I have dedicated myself to developing skills and consciences of the boys and girls to care for the planet, especially caring for water. I have had the opportunity to travel throughout Colombia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and visit the countryside as well as cities, which has helped me understand that the issues regarding water are similar in different contexts.
I was born in a small village in Colombia’s countryside on the bank of the Rio Suarez, which was a source of nourishment and life to all my family. Our entire lives revolved around the river: we washed clothes, bathed, collected firewood and dried it to provide fire for cooking, we shared meals called “sancocho” on special days, like birthdays, Christmas and New Year’s. The rivers’ waters were abundant and crystal-clear. Nowadays, that river no longer carries the amount of water it once did and is mostly dirty and can no longer be used for washing, bathing, or cooking.
Let us reflect on the following:
As a church, how are we contributing to water protection?
In our surrounding context, are we engaging with other, non-religious organizations to protect the right to water?
How are we teaching our youth to value water as a strategic resource for the life of the planet?
2018 Theme: Trafficking and Migration
February 8, 2018
Commemoration of St. Bakhita
Definition of the theme of trafficking: concept, history, statistics
“Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking […] is a crime against humanity” (Signed Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery, 2 December 2014).
There are tens of millions of people in the world who suffer from trafficking and most of them are women. In recent years, unfortunately, the percentage of children of both sexes who are victims of this scourge has also increased significantly. It is an ever-changing phenomenon and it is therefore difficult to establish its magnitude precisely. Trafficking overlaps and merges with clandestine immigration, with the employment of foreign workers in conditions similar to slavery, with women involved in the sex trade or subjected to marriages of convenience.
Trafficking in persons is among the three largest illegal markets and generates clandestine economies worth $150 billion a year (source: ILO, 2015). Human life is an object, traded and exploited for profit, for forced or humiliating labour in various sectors of the economy, for sexual exploitation or domestic slavery. Many are forced into marriage, or to join criminal organisations; they are mutilated, so organs can be extracted, and forced to beg.
Trafficking in persons can occur within a country's territory, or at the international level, when it crosses national borders. In all countries, we can find victims of trafficking, for a specific country can be the origin, transit or destination for trafficked people. (From Talitha Kum’s website)
Definition of the specific theme 2018: trafficking and migration
The theme of the 2018 World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Trafficking highlights the human tragedy of trafficking in migrating persons: migrants, refugees and evacuees. We are called to open our eyes to this problem which touches so many men and women, our brothers and sisters.
Trafficking in persons and smuggling with migrants are two distinct realities that are always linked. The violence and exploitation suffered by migrants who move without a visa for the country to which they are going is often interpreted as trafficking in human beings. Their vulnerable state makes them easy prey for sex and labour trafficking. Refugees and migrants are subjected to longer working shifts than usual, on a meagre wage, in order to pay off the debt they owe. Over time, traffickers increase the amount of debt owed to them, and many migrants end up receiving threats and intimidation if they fail to pay. Many of them end up disappearing, becoming deadly victims of organ trafficking.
With globalisation, the flow of migrants has increased. Political movements in some countries act against this, thus reducing the entry of migrants. This increases the vulnerability of migrants, a human group with a high risk of becoming victim of trafficking in persons, both when they move from one country to another and when they are in the country where they have settled.
The 2018 International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Trafficking invites us to accompany with prayer and our efforts the commitment of the United Nations in its Meeting on Migration (Global Migration Compact), in which the heads of state and governors of all countries belonging to the United Nations give a special importance to the issue of migration and refugees within their political agendas. This issue is considered common and present for all states and human trafficking remains one of the main issues to be discussed.
Let us give this reality a significant centrality in our lives and in our hearts, opening ourselves to welcome, hope and encounter. Let us give light to freedom by fighting slavery.
Gospel of Luke – Luke 10: 25-37
Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Who is my neighbour?
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with allyour mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
[…] But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Testimony: a testimony telling of the sorrow and the hope of those who wait for their relatives to come back.
Letter from a mother
“Knowing what happened to my daughter, I felt my heart empty and my body freezing. But I prayed to God looking at my two grandchildren; that gave me strength to continue. It was not easy to stop crying. Every Thursday and Sunday I would light a candle asking God especially for my daughter’s sake.
Being away from my daughter, people would ask me about her; that affected me a lot. I lied saying that she was in poor health and therefore couldn’t talk to me ... Even though I was dying inside!
After all this time of sorrow I knew that you gave refuge to her. I felt relieved because she is well and in a safe place. Now my wish is to see her again and be able to talk to her. I keep praying that she’s okay”.
Questions for reflection and silence
Put yourself in the shoes of the people of this testimony
If I were to see a similar situation, what would I do? What would be my reaction?
Does this testimony represent a reality of my country/city?
What is my prayer to God?
Sharing and/or Spontaneous Prayer
In the present day of our history, when migratory flows are increasing, we confirm our faith in the God of life, telling Him our concerns through prayer:
When we hear about boys, girls, men and women being deceived and taken to unknown places for sexual exploitation, forced labour and organ trade, our hearts feel indignation and our spirits suffer, because their dignity and rights are violated by threats, deceit and violence.
Oh God, help us fight against all forms of slavery. Together with Saint Bakhita we ask you to put an end to human trafficking.
Give us the wisdom and strength to be close to those who have been wounded in their body, heart and spirit, so that together we may reach the promise of life and tender and infinite love that you offer to our exploited brothers and sisters.
Touch the hearts of those responsible for this serious crime and support our commitment to work for freedom, the gift you desire for all your sons and daughters. Amen.
OPEN TO TRANSFORMATION
Transformations at the Heart of Church Events
Let God transform you
by the renewing of your minds.
You can then discern the will of God:
what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rm. 12, 2
As we continue revisiting the 175 years of our SNJM Congregation’s existence, we cannot but be riveted by two major events that have forever marked our community’s destiny. These are, of course, the Second Vatican Council and the Quiet Revolution experienced in Quebec during the 1960’s. Let us spend some time today looking at the first event.
From the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope John XXIII wanted to breathe new life into the Church. And so he convoked the Second Vatican Council. It was a work of faith and courage that would be continued by his successor, Paul VI. One of the decrees, Perfectae Caritatis (Perfect Charity), was addressed to religious congregations and urged them to undertake an aggiornamento, a spiritual renewal of religious life. A major challenge!
Our community set about listening to the Spirit speaking to us in this document, calling us:
Concretely, this decree asked us to revise our constitutions, customs, prayer books, common practices, etc., in order to be disciples for our time. Our Congregation responded to this call with seriousness, conviction and enthusiasm. Several Sisters made outstanding contributions by means of their research, their writings, and their work of revising and rewriting the Constitutions. Sisters also contributed by taking part in community discussions, General Chapters, and various other sessions.
The summary of the 24th General Chapter (1967) presented the approved guidelines and changes which invited us, among other things, to be more flexible regarding our spiritual and community life (a variety of prayer forms, small group living, etc.), and to better adapt to real life (civil name, dress, family visits, personal budget, etc.) The document was also an invitation to promote greater participation and personal responsibility. In short, it invited us to take into greater account the demands of the apostolic life.
It was hoped that the document Response to the Spirit, published in 1968, would give meaning to these changes. Here is a significant excerpt:
The spirit of our foundress urges us to advance . . . in the path of spiritual renewal and adaptation to the needs of the time. . . . In order that we may respond fully to the urgencies of our time, our Institute is reconsidering the formation of its members and rejuvenating its structures; in a spirit of service to the Church it is enlarging the scope of its apostolic activities; and in the light of new theological concepts it is deepening its understanding of the consecrated life. (page 2)
The Acts of the 26th General Chapter (1976) presented our charism statement which was later formulated in our Constitutions and Rules (1985):
In fidelity to the spirit of our foundress, we are a community of women religious consecrated to God in the names of Jesus and Mary, who desire to proclaim by our lives the primacy of the love of God. Moved by an active love, we collaborate in the Church’s mission of education, with emphasis on education in the faith, and with a special concern for the poor and the disadvantaged.
These same Constitutions commit us, as we follow in the footsteps of Marie-Rose Durocher, to live our religious consecration as a call from and a response to God. They encourage us, in the name of Jesus, to serve together through chastity which is the broadening of our capacity to love; through poverty which implies sharing, solidarity, simplicity of life and the promotion of justice; through obedience which is our shared search for the will of God; and through the living of our charism which focuses on the full development of the human person.
More recently, the Acts of the 34th General Chapter (2016) invite us to a renewed vision:
In a spirit of contemplation, we root ourselves in the Gospel and the vision of Blessed Marie-Rose to go forth boldly with a renewed vision. The Spirit prompts us to be in dialogue with the emerging questions; to act with audacity and freedom; to widen our circles of collaboration; and to imagine the SNJM mission in new ways – open to all for the sake of the world, the Church, and the whole Earth community. (page 5)
How did Vatican II encourage openness and transformation in our prayer life, our community life, and our apostolic commitments?
What paths have we travelled together during the past 60 years?
Praise be to you, Lord,
for your Holy Spirit who inspired us
to transform our lives.
Praise be to you for opening our minds and hearts
to new horizons and new initiatives.
Keep us always attentive
to the calls of today and tomorrow.